Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Read freely. Respect widely.
It's Freedom to Read Week all across this great nation of ours. I encourage everyone out there to read something this week that someone else thinks you shouldn't read. Last time I talked about this important freedom of expression promotion, I recommended Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro, a book that was challenged and removed from school libraries when it was first published.
Today, I recommend No Claim to Mercy: The Controversial Case for Murder Against Robert Baltovich by Toronto writer Derek Finkle. Finkle spent much of last winter and spring in court here in Toronto, defending his right to keep prosecutors from using his research materials for that book in a retrial of Robert Baltovich.
It may seem strange to some that during a week dedicated to access to words, I am recommending a book involved in an instance where I support restricted access to words. Information wants to be free, after all, so who does Derek Finkle think he is keeping his notes and transcripts from the people who want to freely access them? Well, I'm guessing Derek Finkle thinks he's the original creator of those research materials, AND an independent journalist working in a society that values a free and independent press.
Some may call this a gray area, but grayness need not be synonymous with ambiguity. Within the vast gray areas around the current intellectual property debates, there are, and SHOULD BE, clearly defined "no go" zones. Without these necessary and valuable restrictions, we as a society put even more fundamental rights at risk.
I hope you all join me in congratulating Derek Finkle, one of my personal heroes of the information age, on his being awarded the 2008 Freedom to Read Award, for his brave stand in defense of creator rights.